Disclosure: Our trip on the Stettler Train was hosted by The Stettler Regional Board of Trade. As always, all opinion are my own.
We spent the weekend in Stettler, Alberta this past weekend. We love getting out and exploring the local communities around Alberta. Stettler has become one of our favourites after our visit to some of their local farmers last year. One of the highlights of this trip? Riding the Stettler Train aka Alberta Prairie Railway Excursions.
Stettler is less than two and a half hours from Calgary and two hours from Edmonton. The perfect distance for an easy weekend family getaway from the city.
Stettler Train Trips with Alberta Prairie Railway Excursion
Climb aboard the train in Stettler and head to Big Valley, Alberta. You’ll be riding on a train pulled by a steam or diesel powered locomotive. Instead of letting the train through Stettler fade away into oblivion, Alberta Prairie Railway Excursions has made it a primo tourist excursion in Central Alberta for all ages.
Stettler Train Reservations
Head over to the Alberta Prairie Railway Excursion schedule page for your options. They are really great about updating the availability of their excursions. You have to call them at 1-800-282-3994 (in Canada) or (403) 742-2811 (outside Canada) to make reservations. They cannot make reservations by mail or email.
Stettler Train Fares
Alberta Prairie Railway Excursions is running a fare special in June to celebrate their 30th anniversary. June fares for their standard trips are adults for $85, youths $65, children $35 and kids 3 & under are free. GST is extra on all fares. Other trips are higher in price. After July fares for their standard trips are adults for $110, youths $75, children $45 and kids 3 & under are free. These fares include the train ride, entertainment and an Alberta beef buffet dinner. Check out their complete fare listing for all options.
Fun on the Stettler Train
Take a bit of time before you climb aboard to explore the P&H Grain Elevator and Feed Mill adjacent to the train station. Volunteers give tours explaining the history and inner-workings of the P&H Grain Elevator. Once the whistle sounds, though, you need to get “ALL ABOARD!”
Once the train is on its way, you’ll be in route to Big Valley for about an hour and a half. You’ll pass lots of farm fields and natural areas along the way. Plus, keep your eyes peeled because there have been known to be train robbers in the area!
As you travel, train staff will give you tidbits of Albertan history, railway history and the area you are travelling through with funny stories sprinkled throughout.
The train has a bar car with live music (over 18 only), a souvenier shop with bar, an open air train car and a roving entertainer. Your afternoon will fly by and you’ll experience travel just like Albertans of long ago.
Visiting Big Valley
For the trips leaving at 2:30, you will pull into Big Valley at 4:15 for a 1 hour and 45-minute visit (leaving at 6 pm). An Alberta beef dinner buffet is set up for train passengers in the Big Valley community hall (though you should go to eat before 5 pm or you might be the only one there). PRO TIP: Don’t eat a late lunch in Stettler before you board (like we did). The beef dinner is delicious so you’ll want to have room to enjoy it!
During the rest of your time in Big Valley, make sure to climb the hill to check out St. Edmund’s Anglican Church. You’ll be treated to sweeping views of the area around Big Valley (it really is a BIG valley) as well as a beautifully restored historical church. Not sure you can take the climb? Snag a ride on a golf cart or on the tour trolley from the train station.
Don’t miss the cute shops along Big Valley’s main street. We especially enjoyed the Bee store and Jimmy Jock Boardwalk. If you eat your dinner early, there is an ice cream parlour and a fudge store for a sweet treat.
Want to experience more history? Visit the Roundhouse Ruins, the oil well pumper display and the Railway Station Museum. Your time in Big Valley can be as full or as leisurely as you decide it will be.
Other Alberta Prairie Excursion Options
We loved our ride on the Stettler Train! It was their standard ride option. Looking for something more? Check out their special trips that include extras like car shows, musical entertainment, murder mysteries, prime rib dinners, rib dinners and more. They also have winter Polar Express trips that kids LOVE.
Overall, our experience with Alberta Prairie Railway Excursions was exceptional. The staff is amazing and more than willing to help in any way they can. While chatting with them, it came out that most have worked on the railway for 15+ years. That is a testament to the great company and their commitment to keeping Alberta history alive by offering amazing excursions to their customers.